On Generations

On Generations:

At seven, we wonder, and move things about.
At seventeen, we just try to get out.
At twenty-one, we begin to pursue.
At twenty-five through fifty, we do.
At fifty-one we begin to rule.

And after we’ve built and we’ve ruled, we rest
And decide that the days long gone by were the best
When our parents were building, and their parents ruled.
This we determine at seventy-two.

Now which perspective is actually true?
I think it’s the one that we own while we do.
While we grapple with present necessities,
And our children store up memories.

–Poem by Rani Kaye, June 17, 1989
All rights reserved


Things I know that you might want to

If you Google American Harvest Cereal, you will not find it. Until, of course, Google indexes this blog I am writing, in which case you will link back to my blog. 🙂

Multi Bran Chex Cereal, 14-Ounce Box (Pack of 6)American Harvest Cereal tasted a lot like today’s Multi-Bran Chex, only better. and it was my all-time favorite breakfast cereal the year I found out that Grand Rapids, Michigan is a test market for new products that may or may not hit the big time.

I may have been one of the first children to ever eat American Harvest Cereal! My grandpa was store manager for the Grandville IGA, and when the salesmen gave out samples, Grandpa tested them on me.

American Harvest Cereal made a big hit with me, so Grandpa ordered it for the IGA, and my parents bought it faithfully, and I ate it every morning for several months.

Furthermore, I saved up box tops and mailed them in to receive some sort of toy they were promoting – I believe you needed 10 or 12 box tops – so that was a lot of cereal for one little girl to eat, and I did it gladly. The toy was of little import, and that’s a good thing, because by the time I had sent in my box tops, they had quit producing the cereal, and that came as quite a jolt, since I liked it so much.

That’s when Grandpa explained to me that G.R. was a test market.

Over the years I’ve fallen in love with other new products, only to have them suddenly disappear from store shelves when it turned out that I, and perhaps 3 other Grand Rapidians, were the only people on earth who bought the new products.

Which brings me to my purpose in blogging here tonight. I need you people to start buying wax paper!

My last few trips to the various grocery stores in town have revealed to me a dearth on the store shelves of wax paper – either brand names or store brands!

Now I realize wax paper is an old, not a new product. But since I still live in Grand Rapids, my fear is that a test is being run to see if Grand Rapidians can survive without wax paper … and if we can get along without it, then all of America will wake up one day soon and wax paper will have gone the way of the dodo bird.

So I’m going to teach you all how to wrap a sandwich in wax paper. And I’m going to explain to you why on earth you would want to wrap a sandwich in anything. And, if need be, I’m going to teach you how to make a sandwich.

And I’m going to teach you how to reheat home-made food in the microwave, using wax paper to cover the dish. And I’m going to explain why it’s better to cover the dish with wax paper than with plastic wrap. And if need be, I’m going to teach you how to cook your own food so that you will have leftovers to reheat in the microwave, covered with wax paper.

But first, the economics. Let’s assume you have already found it useful, once or twice in your life, to wrap a sandwich in something. Or, that you have already found it useful, once or twice in your life, to cover a plate of microwavable  leftovers with something.

So here’s the deal, I just bought what I fear may be the last roll of wax paper in America! I paid $1.25 for it, and it will last me about a year. It is biodegradable, and it doesn’t melt and stick to your food when you nuke it.

I need you all to go see if you can find wax paper in a store near you. If you can find it, buy it now! Then report back to me and I will do the follow-up blogs on how to make and wrap sandwiches, and how to cook food and then reheat leftovers.

Oh, and when you go to your local store to buy wax paper, be sure you tell them that Rani Kaye in Grand Rapids sent you! Thanks!

English: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States...

English: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, panorama at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For thee, not ye

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been troubled all week, for the sake of my friend: He’s a young mission intern, stationed (so-to-speak) in Bethlehem, on the Palestinian side of the Wall.

I first heard of the trouble in Gaza a week ago by way of my Facebook News Feed. It was getting mighty noisy, comin’ out of Bethlehem.

Last night I read on Facebook that my friend was drained of emotional energy from it all. So this morning when I got to work, I asked a friend or two to pray for him.

Then I checked Facebook again and discovered that the missile-lobbing was right in-his-face, and that he and his cohorts were probably evacuating, six hours previous.

Well then I got totally alarmed, and pulled out all the stops. I set the whole dang Michigan Methodist prayer chain in motion.

Came home from work at 1 p.m. My husband told me, don’t worry – Hillary’s on her way over there.

Me? I continued just in prayer.

And as I did the dishes, I was thinking: If Jesus came to calm the tribes from fighting, He could separate the peoples into their clans and give them each their apportioned land.

But what would he do with those of us who, like me, are mixed-breed people?

And I thought, well maybe he’d have us choose a clan.

In which case I would choose aboriginal American, I think (i.e., Indians).  If they would go back to old-fashioned ways, that is.

But I don’t suppose anybody is ever going to go back to living more harmoniously with nature, are they? And Jesus is probably NOT going to come physically back here to calm the clans and settle the land disputes anytime soon, either.

So meanwhile, setting aside my daydreams as I wash the dinner dishes – finally, about 2 p.m. (give-or-take) Eastern Standard Time, my iPhone starts chirping as my Twitter alerts start feeding me news that my friend is alive and shooting off his mouth re-tweeting all sorts of mid-eastern tweets.  Thank God!

So I calmed my own fears a bit, and finished out the afternoon. And realizing that SOMETHING must have happened “over there” I googled the words “cease fire” to see what was up. And yes – there was a cease fire between Hamas and Israel at 2 p.m. ET.

So my friend is safe. And I see this peace – as a gift of God – through whatever means it was brought about, be it Egypt, Hamas,  or Hillary Clinton. A peace for the answers to INDIVIDUAL prayers, for the sake of individual pray-ers. Because I guess I don’t figure God looks so much at us nationally as what He looks at us individually.

So the peace is for THEE, not for ye.

Blogging out of both sides of my brain

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”
– The Animals (1964)

I’ve been blogging for a long time, and until very recently I did it all in one place, with an eclectic community of online friends and followers. That worked well for quite a while, but eventually my online friends started arguing with each other, and name-calling, in the comment streams of my blogs. So I mostly quit blogging.

And for a couple of years I spent the majority of my cyberlife on Facebook, enjoying the company of the people I know “in real life.” My real-life friends are also extremely diverse, and now that Facebook allows posts that are longer than one sentence, the fur has begun to fly in that cyberworld as well.

So far, I’ve kept my diverse Facebook friends from interacting with each other, by avoiding commenting on polarizing issues at all. I’ve simply internalized the conflict, and made my own self feel lousy because I realize that if I don’t keep my mouth completely shut, each group of friends of mine is gonna turn on me.

The problem is that I am in total solidarity with each of them on some points that are important to me, but in total solidarity with others of them on other points that are important to me, and I love them all, and wish that they all would love me as I am, not as they wish me to be. I mean it: I love them all. These are my real-life friends I’m talking about here. But I sure ’nuff don’t dare have a dinner party and invite the whole lot of them to interact with each other at my house! I’m afraid they’d tear my home to shreds in their anger with each other, and then they all would turn on me for loving THAT type of person.

Well, I’m tired of stifling myself. I’m a blogger, and a communicator, and I just really need SOME platform in my life where I can say what I want to say. So I’ve started blogging again. But nowadays I blog under two different names, three different email addresses, and five different blogs.  And I have turned off “Publicize” so that none of my Facebook friends will have a clue what I think about anything other than puppies and chocolate desserts.

Do any of the rest of y’all have this problem? What do you do to cope?

The sky is NOT falling

Listen up, kids. I have suffered under self-proclaimed prophets. I have lived through a number of losses of various sorts. I fed a family of five, plus 2 dogs, on $30 a week in the late 1980s. I have been promoted beyond my wildest dreams, then had the whole office closed in a corporate restructuring. I have gone from well-paid management to learning how to make donuts at minimum wage, and then back up again to corporate accountant, and then laid off by a whole new company. I have built my own house with my family, and then lost both the house and the family in a divorce. There’s more, and I ain’t gonna tell you. But the sky is NOT falling.

I am not a pollyanna. I am realistic. People can survive without a lot of things. A LOT of things. Some things matter a lot. And some things just don’t really matter much at all, even though they take up a lot of time and energy.

If you have a particular gripe with religion, or even with God himself — get over it. You’ve probably bought a line of bull. Prayer is a GOOD thing. You should try it. You don’t like the way it’s gone for you before, or you don’t like the way some people who have preached to you in the past have done their preaching or their teaching or whatever — get over it. You WOULD be better at coping with all this latest nonsense on earth if you knew it was okay for you to talk to God as if you mattered to him.

Give it a try.

I’ve got other practical advice I’d be willing to hand out free for nothing. But the thing you need to know most is what I just told you. God made you. God does care how it goes for you. Have a word with him, even if you start out by yelling.

Neurons, Synapses, Economics, and Life

January 24, 2009

Lots of places on the Web, people are blogging away about all sorts of things. Mostly we don’t get paid. We share ideas. We expand each other’s horizons. The world has never been like this. Or has it?

I read Ben Franklin’s autobiography a few years ago. He told me what it was like at the dawn of American history. A few weeks ago I also read A History of the American People, by British author Paul Johnson. He told me some very insightful things about the philosophical background of America, from a European perspective.

Barack Obama is our new president. This man’s greatest gift to us, from my perspective, is his motivational speaking. He pulls together all our collective angst and rekindles our faintly remembered hopes, and helps us to believe we just might, collectively, be able to make sense of life on earth, and order it in such a way that everyone gets what they need.

Because of some Book Reviews I recently read, I made a trip to one of our local libraries today. (Thank you, Ben Franklin, that we have public libraries in America.) Besides the books I went there to fetch, I discovered, by browsing, another book that I just started to read tonight: Mirroring People, by Marco Iacoboni. It’s a neuroscience book, published in 2008. It’s subtitle is, “The New Science of How We Connect With Others.” To me, it is fascinating and exciting to read. My own neurons are firing so rapidly as I read it … I am having so many “Eureka” moments as I process and connect all that has entered my stream of consciousness these past couple of months.

I am not sure that I am able, tonight, to write for you a full description of the path my thoughts have journeyed; but write I must nonetheless, because I’ve perceived some things that I just must share.

In our brains, our neurons fire, and we have billions of them. Synapses are the connections between the neurons. The more synapses, the more creative we are able to be. Currently the phrase often used for creativity is “thinking outside the box.” That phrase simply means being able to have a fresh perspective on an old problem, such that you might actually increase the likelihood of solving the problem. In other words, not being so wary of “reinventing the wheel” that you fail to consider that there may be an alternative to the wheel when it comes to efficient travel and/or portage.

I am coming back to the internet, and then moving on to the economy, so bear with me please.

This socio-political experiment called America was precipitated by intense exchange of ideas after the invention of the printing press. America has just this year shaken off some things that bogged us down, caused a civil war, in fact. We thought we were doomed to division because ideology was our only unity, and that ideology turned out to be diverse, and comprised of many cultures. What’s the same about Americans? Is anything the same on a genetic level (as it probably is for, say, Italians)?

I think something IS the same about us genetically. Be we Native Americans or any other cultural race by DNA, all of us here sprang from people who MIGRATED to a different place, BELIEVING LIFE COULD BE BETTER.

I postulate that some genetic marker remains in all Americans which gives us a propensity to believe that life can be better. We’ve got a gene, I think, that makes us people who will TRY, people who will SEARCH, people who will — dare I say it — HOPE.

In fact, history, I think, has shown, that the darker the days, the more likely Americans are to rise to the occasion. They used to call it “Yankee Ingenuity.” Whatever you call it, throw us into adversity and our genetic code kicks in, despite our present paradigms, and we work together and figure things out and end up better as a whole than even we think is possible.

So what have we here? A massive exchange of ideas on the world-wide-web! It was not thought spawned on American soil that spawned America, you know. We stood on the shoulders of giants (to loosely quote from a movie, and I don’t remember which one … maybe it was Jurassic Park). I think that what’s happening here does not affect just us, but our little experiment affects all of humanity.

For the most part, there is no money changing hands as we all blog our little hearts out, and read each other’s thoughts, and make our sundry neuro-connections, then go about our business. But we sure do spark each other, don’t we?

I just want to share with you my excitement about that fact. I think good stuff is gonna come of all this sparking, kids.

As an aside (but a brief one) a commentator on election night observed that we’d had two baby boom presidents — Bill Clinton and George W (now I thought George W was born during WWII, which makes him not technically a boomer, but I could be wrong about that). The commentator went on to remark how the boomers were supposed to “change the world,” and then he implied that they didn’t, and then he said that Barack is a subsequent generation.

I just want to say that the boomers did change the world. The paradigm shift that brought the seeds of an internet that is (at least presently) FREE, is Woodstock Generation through and through.

Okay, enough about that. Now the ECONOMY.

What has value? Well, what do we NEED? What is ESSENTIAL?

We must all eat and drink. We must all have coverings and shelters against the elements.

Because of those needs, certain things have REAL value. Food has real value. Food springs from the earth, because of the sun, and water. Land is called “real estate” because it has real value. The dollar equivalent of its value may change with so-called economic fluctuations, but even so, the land itself is what is truly of value — particularly if the land is fertile and well-watered and in a favorable climate for production of food. Or if the land contains other “natural resources” useful for the maintenance of life and health (timber, for instance, to name but one).

Another aside here — haven’t you noticed, kids, that the water we need FALLS FROM THE SKY, the food we need SPRINGS FROM THE GROUND … I could go on an on, but ISN’T THAT COOL? Was that by design? DESIGN? If you think not, I betcha you think a bunch of other goofy things too. But enough preaching. Back to the economy.

We are in a TERRIBLE recession. World-wide, no less. Why? Has the earth decreased it’s production of food? (No.) Has the land disappeared? (No.) Has the sun exploded? (No.) Has the rain stopped falling? (No.) Are there still sufficient resources to maintain life on this planet? Um, Yes.

Do we all still want to work to harvest the things that need harvesting and convert the things that need converting to make them more useful or pleasing? (Um, yes — we need MORE JOBS as a matter of fact.)

Do we all still want to BUY food and other stuff? ABSOLUTELY!

Are we willing to trade with each other? We sure are. Heck, we’ll even do the types of things that most interest us free-for-nothing, so long as our basic needs are met. (Like blog, for instance.) We’ll even share our food and other resources, expecting nothing in return but hoping only for respect or affection, on our more magnanimous days.

So what’s the matter with our economy? Oh, some of us (maybe a bunch of us) thought it might be fun to trade things that are not real. Let’s bet money on the future value of, oh, say “real estate.” Let’s buy land and sell it, just to make money on the increase in it’s perceived value (rather than to use it for the sustenance of life).

We built a house of cards, and eventually it collapsed. If we took high school economics, we should have seen this coming.

Okay, the inflated speculative value has collapsed, and it’s not going back up, either. Some gamblers lost a mess of money. Losses hurt. Okay. Get up and build something that’s real.

I think that’s what Barack Obama and our “leaders” are about to do with us. We’re going to provide “jobs” building some real and decent things that will benefit our children and grandchildren down the road, and pay the family grocery bills in the meantime. Every little household gets the chance (I hope) to say about unnecessary debt, “Whew! I won’t do THAT again. Too scary how it can bite you in the butt.” We might not get to do the jobs we thought were our birthright, but we will be productive again, and pretty soon our economy will have a positive “gross national PRODUCT,” and everyone who wants a job will be able to have a job, and since we’re basically a decent bunch of people, we’ll provide for the people who cannot work, and probably even for the people who simply will not work.

I wish I was more eloquent, but this may be the best I can do. I’m writing my ideas anyway, hoping I might “spark” a few of you who turn a phrase better than I do, or who are able to neuro-connect on a higher level than what I do. I’m adding my little spark to humanity, I hope; and I’m giving it free-for-nothing, and I do not care if anybody ever remembers my name. Since we are five degrees connected to each other (or whatever that idea was a few years ago … maybe it was eight … it doesn’t matter) I’m hoping that somewhere down the line enough common sense and realistic optimism shines from my little synapses that a bunch of families benefit for generations to come.